Object Title

Sword - Dussack / Tessak

Sword - Dussack / Tessak


1580 -1620

Object Number



From the Bernal Collection. Purchased at the Bernal Sale, Christie and Manson, 5 March-30 April, 1855, according to the Typed Inventory and ffoulkes 1916, probably Lot 2468 (one of two swords). But regarding the provenance, the annotated copy of the Bernal catalogue (edition edited by Henry Bohn) has IX. 160 (not IX. 161) by Lot 2468, with IX. 69 for the other sword

Physical Description

The steel hilt (corresponding to Type f (Norheim, p. 2; Eyvang, p. 11) consists of a flat, pyramidal, pommel (Norman type 12), with long, flattened, spatulate quillons recurved in the plane of the blade. The knuckle-guard is connected outside the hand by a flat, 'S-shaped' guard to a triangular plate, mounted on the quilons which protect the back of the hand. The plate is pierced with a cross formed of five diamonds with concave faces, and between the arms are four circular holes. On the inside a scroll-guard, dividing at its forward end, links the knuckle-guard to the diagonal side-ring mounted on the root of the rear quillon and the end of the forward arm of the hilt. A thumb-hook joins the side-ring to the quillons at their centre. The knuckle-guard, 'S-bar' and scroll-guard widen towards their centres and the qullon ends are of 'bun-like' shape, with a 'cherry on top'. The wooden, oval-sectioned, grip is covered in brown leather (stopping short of the ends) and bound with a fine to medium gauge copper-alloy wire twist.

The curved, single-edged blade is of 'falchion-type# with a strong chamfer at the start of a false edge which runs for the last 240 mm (9 3/8 in.). A fairly short ricasso, with a narrow fuller near the forward edge and with three longer fullers on each face: a narrow one near the spine stopping at the chamfer, and two slightly broader fullers alongside which extend almost to the tip. The blade bears a mark stamped five times on one face and four on the other.





HiltDepth110 mm
HiltWidth250 mm
BladeLength635 mm
BladeWidth42 mm
OverallLength788 mm
OverallWeight1276 g

Inscriptions and Marks

Maker's mark
Two marks struck several times: a 'Crowned A' (lacking a cross-bar) and a small cross. In each of the two long fullers the'A' mark is struck twice, alternating with the cross mark which is struck three times, thus: + A + A +. The A mark is struck again on the inside of the ricasso, near the forward edge. (for the 'A' mark see ffoulkes 1916 and drwaing at actual size in Marks Cards [curators' office]). Norheim illustrates the same mark from several swords (pp.7-9, figs 1c, 2c, 5a, 5c, 13). Norheim fig. 5a corresponds to Eyvang fig. 6 (acc. no. HAO 19601 B).
On both faces of the bladea (pprox. 75 mm [outside] and 115 mm [inside] from the hilt


Bibliographic References

Harold, Viscount Dillon, Illustrated Guide to the Armouries, Tower of London, London, 1910: (page no. not yet found), Pl. 18 (X.97).

C ffoulkes, Inventory and survey of the armouries of the Tower of London, London, HMSO, 1916, vol. II, p. 282 (illus. - mark), 283 (illus. - hilt & base of blade).

A.R. Dufty and A. Borg, European Swords and Daggers in the Tower of London, London, 1974, p. 22, pl. 36c (overall view).


Dussacks, or tessaks (as they are also know) are often referred t to as 'Sinclair sabres' and associated with a Scottish expedition to Norway in 1612.

Many of these swords were exported over Continental Europe and many were imported into Norway during the late 16th century, where they formed part of the arms of the 'bonde’ or peasant / farmer armies.

There are many similar weapons at Graz. See F G von M, 'Die Waffen des Landes-Zeughaus zu Graz', Graz 1880, reprinted from Das Landes-Zeughaus in Graz, Buchdruckerei con Joh. Janotta, nd, pl. 24, fig. 6; Landzeughaus (Graz), 'Schwert und Sabel and des Steiermark.', exhib. cat., Graz, Landeszeughaus, 1975, no. 23, fig. 51.

See also Terje Norheim, 'Tessaklinger', Haermuseet, Akerhus, Oslo, extract from the Yearbook, 1971-1972;
Eivind Eyvang, 'Tessaken', Haermuseet, Akerhus, Oslo, extract from the Yearbook for 1973-1975 (both need fully extracting by someone who reads Norwegian).

The hilt corresponds to their Type f (Norheim, p. 2; Eyvang, p. 11). Norheim illustrates the same mark from several swords (pp.7-9, figs 1c, 2c, 5a, 5c, 13). Norheim fig. 5a corresponds to Eyvang fig. 6 (acc. no. HAO 19601 B).

The Royal Armouries holds three other dussacks: IX. 158, IX. 159 and IX. 160.


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